We may think of bones as being static structures, but they are constantly changing. Bone size, density, and strength ebbs and flows throughout our lives, achieving their highest density in your 30s. As we age, bone density gradually decreases, increasing the likelihood of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is very common: roughly half of women and a quarter of men over age 50 will fracture a bone because of it. Women are generally at higher risk of having osteoporosis because they often start out with a lower bone density than men, and the dip in estrogen they experience during/after menopause increases their risk. But not to worry, with the right approach you can keep your bones strong and healthy for years to come. Here are 5 steps we recommend taking to keep your bone density where it should be:
1) Specific types of exercise.
Any kind of exercise has health benefits, but if you want to zero in strengthening your bones, you should focus on weight bearing and resistance exercises. Aim for 3-4 days per week. Any exercise that focuses on carrying/moving the weight of your body can be a weight bearing exercise: think running, walking, dancing, hiking, or aerobics. Resistance exercises rely on an outside force like water, exercise bands, or weights to build up your muscle and bone strength. All types of exercise help you maintain good balance and flexibility, which will further protect you from injuries and/or falls.
2) Focus on upping your calcium and protein intake.
Increasing awareness of the types of foods you are eating will help you determine how much calcium and protein you are getting from your diet. Getting in the habit of reading labels is a good way to up your calcium intake. Calcium percentages are based on a daily total of 1000 mg, so if a label reads “50% of daily calcium” you know the food contains 500 mg of calcium in each serving. You can also add supplements to your diet: for osteoporosis prevention, getting enough Vitamin D and calcium hydroxyapatite is important. The general daily recommendation for calcium is 1000 mg for women 50 and under and 1200 mg for women 51 and older. Like calcium, protein also increases bone density and strength. The general recommendation for protein intake is to eat 0.4 grams of protein for every pound you weigh.
3) Get tested for mineral deficiency.
The exposure we all have to chemicals and pollution can cause a build up of heavy metals in our bodies - these can cause a reduction in important minerals including calcium. This loss of minerals can increase the risk of osteoporosis and other diseases. Getting tested to make sure your body is getting all the nutrients and minerals it needs to keep your bones healthy and strong can help put your mind at ease. Schedule a consultation here to find out more:
4) Stick to a regular sleep pattern.
Sleep may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of bone health, but a 2016 Japanese study of 1,000 respondents between ages 25 and 85 found a significant connection between too little sleep and low bone density. A second American study following 11,000 post-menopausal women determined that those who slept 5 hours or less each night had alarmingly lower bone density than those who regularly slept 7 hours or more.